Thursday, August 04, 2011

Pearson Draws First Challenger

Pearson Draws First Challenger

This beats a Geri Huser comeback: Democrat Joe Riding, now in the middle of a second term on the Altoona City Council, has announced as a Democrat in House District 30.

That's the turf of controversial conservative Kim Pearson, who pulled off a huge 2010 upset when she knocked off conservaDem Huser by 126 votes, with just 48.5% of the vote in a three way race.

Pearson has been a conservative first and a Republican second and has been the highest profile House freshman. She starred in a lengthy Register profile focused on her uncompromising approach.

Riding has Chamber of Commerce ties, and owns and manages a family golf course, not a bad match for this high-growth suburban area. (I have family in the district and there's not a lot of old trees out here.)
“Our current political system is broken, with too many legislators putting their own partisan ideology before the needs of their constituents,” Riding said today. “Growing up in a family business has taught me important values, like working with others to find pragmatic solutions to problems. I am running to bring some needed civility and common sense back to the statehouse for the citizens of Eastern Polk County.”

The district sheds its piece of Jasper County and pulls all the way into eastern Polk. The changes actually help Pearson: her old district had a Democratic registration edge of 1200, which drops to just 100 under the new lines.

But as I noted at District Of The Day time: "The difference between a protest vote for a relative unknown in 2010 and a vote to re-elect a controversial known quantity in 2012 will matter more than the lines." I wouldn't be surprised to see primaries in both parties for this seat. Huser drew a labor challenge in 2008, and the GOP may worry that Pearson can't hang on against presidential turnout. Or, given the testy relationship between Pearson and the party leadership, they may not care.

Also noted: Walcott Republican Ross Paustian announces for a second term in House 92. Paustian lost to Elesha Gayman in 2008 before winning the open seat in `10. He's already got a Democratic challenger in former senator Frank Wood.

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